▲ The island of Guam has been placed at the center of the conflict Photo courtesy United States Navy on a public domain license
Earlier this month, President Moon Jae-in hinted that complete defense reform may be needed in dealing with the crisis on the Korean Peninsula owing to North Korea’s progress with its missile weapons capabilities. However, recent developments are suggesting otherwise.
After tensions were raised following recent threats by the North Korean dictator to bomb U.S. military installations on the island of Guam, and American president Donald Trump’s response to hit the North with “fire and fury, involving either a conventional strike or one using nuclear weapons,” things have begun to calm somewhat. This is despite the fact that the U.S. and South Korea are in the midst of annual military drills.
According to a recent report, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that diplomatic maneuvers should take precedence and that diplomacy is stronger and more effective when backed by credible military power.
This statement comes shortly after President Moon had recently said that the THAAD missile battery should go ahead with deployment after it had been suspended shortly after he took office in May.
However, as things stand at the moment, it could be said that the world media has done more than its part to ratchet up tensions between the North and the South, pointing to imminent conflict and the possible outbreak of a Third World War for months now.
The truth is that any sort of conflict on the Korean Peninsula would result in the disintegration of the Kim regime, and that is something that certain players in the conflict, most notably China, would not want to risk.
To his credit, President Moon has tried to focus his North Korea policy on cooperation and dialogue, although the U.N. Security Council recently agreed on tougher sanctions against the North, which in the long run will most likely have little or no effect.
One should also consider the fact that North Korea’s current nuclear threat is not aimed at the South, but at the United States, and, as such, policy matters concerning the North should be aimed at other areas of concern, most notably inter-Korean relations.
The fact is that Moon is somewhat misled by continuing to pursue the notion that South Korea should play a lead role in future negotiations for the denuclearization of the Peninsula. It is not a key player on that front. The nuclear issue is a prime concern for the United States, with China acting as a mediator in the process, all the while diminishing the role of the South in the region.
“Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea’s nuclear problem,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said last month.
Moon has said that he wants to avoid war on the Peninsula at all costs and that no military action should be taken without the consent of the South Korean government. However, with the aforementioned military exercises now in full swing, it remains to be seen what sort of response will come from the North and how the course of future events will unfold.
Attitudes in the South have differed for the most part with regard to the potential conflict with the North for quite some time now.
Whereas the world media has done much to hype up a potential catastrophe, life here continues on as is always does. People go to work; they go to school; they go out to dinner; they do any number of normal everyday things, but a potential war is seemingly the furthest thing from their minds.
To be sure, the world media, and the media here at home will continue to rattle on about tensions on the Peninsula, and about the war which never officially ended, but even then, it will do little to faze the general population.
Everyone can agree that any potential conflict, especially if it turns out to be a nuclear one, is something that should be avoided at all costs, as it will create a domino effect which would reverberate throughout the world.
The future is shrouded in doubt, but dead bodies should not be included in what lies ahead.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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